HAMMOND — They were back to work for just a few days when told Wednesday morning to go home because of another coronavirus infection.

That’s according to employees at Lear Corp., a maker of automobile seats for the Ford Motor Co. assembly plant across the state line in the Hegewisch neighborhood of Chicago.

The company confirmed it had been notified by an employee of a positive test for the virus. "(T)he employee, and coworkers who may have been in contact with this individual, have been instructed to self-quarantine and not return to the facility until they have received the appropriate medical clearance," Lear said in a written statement.

Day shift workers said they were told about 9 a.m. to go home because of a case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Production was halted for "deep cleaning and disinfection," according to Lear.

"The Hammond facility is following all recommended guidelines from the CDC and has fully implemented the company’s extensive health and safety protocols in its daily operations, including social distancing strategies, screening procedures, information signage, advanced cleaning protocols and use of personal protective equipment," the company said.

The plant, which employs about 875 workers on two 12-hours shifts, closed March 17 for cleaning after the company reported a worker tested positive for the virus. The shutdown was extended when Lear revealed a second COVID-19 infection.

Lear workers were called back Sunday, with some still expressing concerns about working in the new conditions.

“I can literally touch your shoulder by not even extending my arm, and that’s how close I am to you in that place,” said an assembly line worker who asked not to be identified.

Another worker said maintaining 6 feet of separation between workers is possible only in some areas of the 240,000 square foot plant at 2204 Michigan St.

“They tell us to social distance, but that’s hard to do. We’re all on top of each other on the lines,” the worker said.

Employees also expressed concern about some colleagues not wearing the required face masks and performing other required safety precautions.

“I’m not saying close (the plant) for the rest of the time being, but until they get it under control someway, somehow,” a worker said.
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